The Coast News Group
Gabrielle Xavier of San Diego gives supporters a high five as she takes off on the three-day walk. Xavier is an eight-year survivor of breast cancer. Photo by Promise Yee

Walkers from around County fight against cancer

DEL MAR — A spirited group of 2,500 walkers took off from the fairgrounds to walk 60 miles to raise funds and awareness to fight breast cancer Nov. 16. 

Teams dressed in pink T-shirts, pink hats and some in pink tutus warmed up before starting the first of three 20-mile days.

After warm ups police bicycle escorts gave walkers a final high five as they headed south to San Diego. The team of 51 police officers rode alongside the walkers for three days to provide road safety.

Each team walked in honor of someone diagnosed with breast cancer. Some teams were headed by a breast cancer survivor. Other teams walked for a friend or family member who did not survive the disease.

“My stepmom is a survivor, her mother is a survivor, her sister didn’t,” Stephanie Castle, of San Diego, said. “My mother was a survivor recently. All of us have family or close friends (with breast cancer). We walk to find a cure and hopefully another person doesn’t get it.”

Debbie Chapel of Riverside first participated in the walk in 2003. In 2004 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then last year she was diagnosed as terminally ill with the disease.

“They say I’m terminal, but I’m not laying down,” Chapel said. “I’m fighting.”

Chapel has participated in the walk five different years. This year she served on the support crew for her team that walked for her. On the support crew she helped her team haul extra gear and bring along any special food and drink requests that were not provided by the race staff.

“Knowing they support me, I can walk through cancer,” Chapel said.

The San Diego walk raised $6.5 million. Funds raised are used for breast cancer research and community breast health and education programs.